by Frank Schnittger
Sun Oct 11th, 2015 at 02:11:18 PM EST
OK, I don't want to crow too much but Ireland were unfortunate to win by only 15 points and lose three of their best players to injury - Sexton, O'Connell and O'Mahoney - three of the main leaders of the team. The match confirmed my prior prognostications that Ireland are now a better team than that which won the last two 6 Nations titles. Not only that, but all 8 substitutes played their part and added something positive to the team performance - something that would never have been the case in the past.
For France it is a demoralising defeat, the third time in a row that they have now lost to Ireland - and they have not beaten Ireland in their last five meetings. Ireland had 70% possession and France never looked even close to winning the match never once threatening the Irish try line. Having said all of that, France are still a very good side, and could well embarrass the All Blacks in the quarter-final.
The Quarter final match-ups have now been decided:
South Africa vs. Wales
New Zealand vs. France
Ireland vs. Argentina
Australia versus Scotland
In other words, very much as I predicted with Wales replacing the home nation England. So much for my detractors Eurogreen, Melanchthon et al! That is part of the weakness of Rugby as a world sport: the international pecking order is fairly clearly established and is rarely upset. For all their natural and numerical advantages, France still have some way to go to being a top power in World Rugby.
Having said all that, if O'Connell and Sexton are ruled out of the World Cup, the road ahead will become increasingly difficult for Ireland. Argentina will offer a stern challenge in the quarter final and my prediction that Ireland will proceed to the semi-final is far from a done deal. Nevertheless it has beeen a good week for Irish sport - beating world champions Germany in the European Cup qualifying was another highlight. If things get much better than this, I can see Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, calling a snap general election in November rather than the expected date in early spring...